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Monday, July 28, 2008

A Decade

Ten years ago today, July 28, 1998, we boarded a jet plane and moved to Stockholm, Sweden. I never would've guessed that a decade later I'd still be living at Tegnergatan 4. Our three year adventure turned into a life style and now we like to say that we are definitely staying indefinitely!
What a difference a decade makes! Our first dog, Lucy, had made the trip two months before us because of a four month quarantine the Swedish government required. One of the first Swedish words I learned was was a bummer. Because our move was for a relatively short amount of time, we didn't bring any furniture or things that plugged in! They were tucked away in a storage bin in Minneapolis. When we first arrived to our beautiful apartment, it was not nicely furnished. Over time we made the place our home thanks to about a zillion runs to Ikea! After living here for six years, we decided that that storage bin must go. So we did a major sort, held another garage sale, shipped what we wanted over to Sweden and now everything we own is on this side of the ocean. We lost Lucy three years ago and lived without a dog for four months. Then we got Tanner and the love affair with light colored, happy, energetic, Labrador mix dogs continues! A few years back we renovated the apartment and while we've always felt incredibly lucky to be living in such a lovely place, now we really feel that it is ours, with our touches all around. At this point some of the stuff in the apartment belongs to us, some belongs to church, some has been given to us through the years as people have moved on, some of it needs to be thrown out! But it definitely feels like home and we love it.
In the last 10 years we've learned a new language and adjusted to a new culture. We've gotten a little bit used to the weird rhythm of dark winters and light summers. We still don't enjoy eating fish. Some things never change! We've traveled to just about every country in Western Europe and many in Eastern Europe and have been privileged to go to Egypt twice as well as visit Kenya and Uganda. (Doug's been to Uganda 3 times!) Every member of our families except two brothers and two sisters-in-laws and nieces and nephews have been to see us. We've been on amazing journeys with our parents. We love the World Cup "football" tournament, we enjoy watching curling, we watched Lance Armstrong race in his last Tour de France. We've been to the British Open golf tournament three times. We bought a boat three years ago and have enjoyed the beauty of the Stockholm archipelago while we've adjusted to swimming in freezing cold water. (The boat suffered a major breakdown last Friday. That part of our journey may be ending soon. ):
We live in Europe and we love it. We have watched our church continue to grow and develop into a richly diverse, loving, generous and spirited family of God. We remain challenged by the calling that God continues to extend to us. When we moved here 10 years ago, I was hoping to enjoy Stockholm, get to travel a bit, have a fruitful season in our church, and then move back to the United States where we'd settle down and do real life! Well, life doesn't get any more real than what we are living now! When we got married we both thought we'd live overseas for a season as we had done prior to meeting one another. I could never have anticipated that our life here would be so fruitful, so enriching, so live-enhancing. I am thankful. We definitely miss being closer to the US and wish that traveling there didn't take so long and require so much jet lag. We are grateful for our families who support us and appreciate the life we enjoy here.
It's not all perfect, that's for sure. There are aspects of Swedish culture that still make me a little crazy, but I'll save those stories for another day! Today is a day to be thankful and savor the wonder of the last 10 years. My life has been filled with amazing people, phenomenal experiences and incredible memories that continue to shape and mold me.
One only wonders, what will the next 10 years bring?